Tuesday, June 23, 2020

June 2020 Pass or Pages Entry #1

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary and Tia Rose Mele of Talcott Notch Literary Services for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!

Entry 1: Adventurous Als on Kayaks


Envision a long fluorescent kayak zooming down the slopes in the middle of winter[TRM1]. It’s a fun but radical vision, and it’s the basis of Adventurous Al’s on Kayaks[RP1].

This story was inspired by my son (Al-2) and his wife (Al-1) who are always on the go on some adventure. We stored their kayaks while they hiked the Appalachian Trail. When we were arranging for the kayaks to be picked up, I told my daughter-in-law that it was okay that they were getting them because Dad and I were done using them as sleds. I laughed and said, “Can you just picture that?” She laughed and replied, “It sounds like a kids’ story to me.”[RP2] And thus, the groundwork for Adventurous Al’s on Kayaks began[TRM2].

I am qualified to write this story because I know children’s books and what kids like to read. I am an avid reader and have been writing children’s stories for my sons and students since they were very tiny. I am retired from years working in education and libraries, sharing my love of reading with children. I am a published author of articles covering yard and tree care. You can read more about my writing experience at my blog: [blog address redacted]

I am searching for an agent and look forward to hearing about your interest in my attached manuscript[TRM3].
Rebecca's comments:
[RP1] While this might not stop me from reading, it is a device in queries that makes me wary; a writer instructing me to “envision” or “imagine if” rather than launching into their book’s stats/story.
[RP2] At this point, I still don’t know what the story is about, only that it involves a kayak. I don’t know what genre — YA, PB, or MG — and I don’t know the wordcount. I wouldn’t continue on to read the opening pages when a query letter doesn’t include this information.

Tia's comments:
[TRM1]  This kind of opening actually makes it hard to picture the scene. Rather than starting with "envision," try describing the scene in a way that makes the agent envision without having to tell them to do so.
[TRM2] This is a really fun origin story! 
[TRM3] Include word count in the query.

First 250 Words

Al Squared was a very adventurous couple[RP3]. They loved to be out in nature. You never knew what you would find them doing--hiking, biking, swimming, exploring nature centers, taking in the majestic beautiful of flower gardens, but their favorite activity was kayaking[TRM4].

Al Squared could kayak all day long. They would pack breakfast, lunch, dinner and lots of water, and eat picnics on the water.

This fun couple lived near Minneapolis. They usually kayaked in an area that seemed to have a hundred little lakes all connected by narrow canals. None were too narrow to keep Al Squared away!

The kayak season persisted from early spring until well into the fall. The season never seemed to last long enough for adventuring Al Squared.

When the weather was too frigid to kayak, Al Squared didn't waste away inside. They would bundle up and continue to explore and hike. When the land was graced with snow, they enjoyed many hours snowboarding on the local snow-white hills.

One day while Al Squared were eating breakfast, Al1 saw her kayak being stored on their frozen balcony. Sadly, she complained, "Oh, I sure miss using the kayaks. When will spring arrive?"

Al2 agreed with Al1. He also longed for thrilling days kayaking through the lakes. He thought for a minute and then exclaimed, "I've got it. I know how we can kayak today!"

Flabbergasted, Al1 questioned him, "What do you mean? Al2, there are eight inches of snow on the
Rebecca's comments:
[RP3] If I did continue onto the story, I would stop reading pretty much right away, because it seems like a children’s book about a grownup couple, and I can’t really imagine where to sell that.

Tia's comments:
[TRM4] I'd stop reading after this first bit because in children's books, the main characters should be children. It's hard to market a book with adult main characters to children, so it would be very difficult to get a publisher to take the project. I also read a bit further and the narrative feels a bit choppy, like there's no transition between ideas, which was jarring to read.

Rebecca - Pass
Tia - Pass

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